Desert Bighorn sheep are getting a nursery in Utah

Nov 30, 2021, 12:34 PM | Updated: 12:36 pm
Bighorn Sheep Photo: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources...
Bighorn Sheep Photo: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

DUCHESNE — The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) is opening its first ever nursery devoted to the desert Bighorn sheep.

First ever Bighorn sheep nursery

DWR is teaming up with Young Living, a Utah based essential oils company.  Young Living is donating 1800 acres of private land in Duchesne County for the nursery. The 1800 acres at the SkyRider Wilderness Ranch will be a safe home for many Bighorns. 

Bighorn Sheep Photo: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

There’s been a nursery herd of Rocky Mountain Bighorn sheep on Antelope Island for several years. But, this will be the first designated nursery area for desert Bighorns in Utah.

SkyRider Ranch Bighorn Sheep Nursery Photo: Young Living

In a statement, Riley Peck, the DWR Once-In-A-Lifetime Species Coordinator, said “this fenced area will provide a place for our herds to safely grow.”

“Whenever we have a need to supplement or create new populations in the state, we will have our own internal Bighorn sheep population and can be self sufficient in maintaining healthy herds.” Peck added.

Why a nursery is needed

Several of Utah’s Bighorn sheep populations were decimated by disease.  A report on the status of the animals was released in 2018 by the DWR also shows domestic sheep grazing and human activity is dwindling the population of some groups of Bighorn sheep around the state.

SkyRider Ranch Photo: Young Living

Peck said having the ranch will allow animals to be relocated to other parts of Utah to supplement those populations that are in decline, or to start new herds altogether.

Bighorn Lamb Photo: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

The original 150 desert Bighorn sheep are coming from Nevada. Peck thanked both the Silver State and Young Living for their generosity.

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Desert Bighorn sheep are getting a nursery in Utah